LWIF EP26: Do Animals Sound More Realistic in Japanese or English?

I noticed that the sound that animals made were different in Japanese and English. Which animals do you think sound more realistic in Japanese vs. English?

Here are the names of animals and the sounds they make, in Japanese and in English.

  • Pig (ブタ) | oink | ブーブー (buu buu)
  • Elephant (ゾウ) | trumpet (barag?) | パオーンパオーン (paon paon)
  • Cat (ネコ) | meow | ニャーニャー | (nyaa nyaa)
  • Dog (イヌ) | bark | ワンワン (wan wan)
  • Monkey (サル) | grunt/squeak (ooh ooh aah aah) | ウキーキー (uki kii)
  • Rooster (オンドリ) | cock-a-doodle-doo | コケコッコー (kokekokko)
  • Cow (ウシ) | moo | モーモー (moo moo)
  • Horse (ウマ) | neigh | ヒヒーン (hihiin)
  • Bear (クマ) | roar | ガオー (gaoo)
    Owl (フクロウ) | hoot | ほーほー (hoo hoo)

If you’re interested in learning more Japanese onomatopoeia (words that represent sounds), Tofugu has a handy guide. If  you look at that link, you’ll see that the Japanese language has a ton of onomatopoeia.

What do animals sound like where you’re from?

10 comments on LWIF EP26: Do Animals Sound More Realistic in Japanese or English?

  • Jakub

    I’ m from Poland and our onomatopoeias are funny too.
    In Polish we have got our name for onomatopoeias. They are called “wyrazy dźwiękonaśladowcze”
    pig (świnia) – chrum chrum (hroom hroom) /English/
    dog (pies) – hau hau (xaw) /IPA/
    cat (kot) – miau miau (mʲjaw) /IPA/
    rooster (kogut) – kukuryku (ˌkukuˈrɨku) /IPA/
    cuckoo (kukułka) – ku ku (koo koo) /English/
    owl (sowa) – hu hu (hoo hoo) /English/
    bee or housefly (pszczoła lub mucha) – bzz bzz /it sound the same in English/
    goat (koza) – mee mee (mɛ mɛ) /IPA/
    goose (gęś) – gę gę (ɟjɛɛ̃w̃) /IPA/
    I use IPA to write words that are hard in pronounciation, but when it was possible I tried to write them using English. If you want to hear how those words sound perfectly in Polish you should try IVONA https://www.ivona.com/.

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      Hey Jakub! Thanks for putting together all the Polish wyrazy dźwiękonaśladowcze!

    • Fransisca

      Hey Jakub! I’m not sure how the sound should be pronounce but by reading (in english) it. I think its quiet similar to Indonesian animal sound. lols

      • Jakub

        I used standard phonetic alphabet (IPA). You can just use this website https://www.ivona.com/ and choose Polish voice.

  • Sofia

    I live in the U.S but my dad is Mexican so I know some of the animal sounds.
    rooster: kikiriki
    dog: guau guau
    cat: miau

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      The rooster and cat sound close to English, but the dog sounds a bit different. Thanks for sharing!

  • SEA monster

    And that’s how it goes in the Czech Republic.

    Duck: kvak kvak
    Chicken: kokokodák
    Rooster: kykyryký
    Dog: haf haf
    Cat: mňau mňau
    Cow: bůůů
    Donkey: hýha hýha
    Goat: me-eeeee
    Crow: krá krá
    Pig: chro chro


    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      Thanks SEA monster. I’ll have to put some of these into the translator to hear what they sound like. Interested in that pig sound “chro chro”.

  • Jana

    German animal sounds!

    Pig (das Schwein)| grunzen (to grunt)| oink oink or ruff ruff
    Elephant (der Elefant) | trompeten (to trumpet)| töröööö
    Cat (die Katze) | miauen or schnurren (to purr) | miau
    Dog (der Hund) | bellen (to bark) | wau wau or wuff wuff
    Monkey (der Affe) | kreischen (to yell or scream) | uuk uuk iiik iiik
    Rooster (der Hahn) | krähen (to crow) | kikerikiiii
    Chicken (das Huhn) | gackern (to cluck) | bock bock bock or gack gack gack
    Cow (die Kuh) | muhen (to moo) | muuuh
    Horse (das Pferd) | wiehern (to neigh) | no onomatopoeia
    Bear (der Bär) | brüllen (to roar) | no onomatopoeia
    Owl (die Eule) | schreien (to yell, is what German biologists say that owls do, i.e. hoot) | schuhuh
    Duck (die Ente) | schnattern (to quack) | quak quak
    Sheep (das Schaf) | blöken (to bleat) | määäh määäh or bäääh bäääh
    Dove/pidgeon (die Taube) | gurren (to coo) | ruckedigu, ruckedigu (this is what the doves say in Cinderella – ruckedigu, ruckedigu, Blut ist im Schuh (there’s blood in the shoe))
    Goat (die Ziege) | meckern (to bleat) | meck meck

  • EK

    In Finnish, the sounds are very similar to other European ones:

    Dog: hau hau (woof)
    Cat: miau miau (meow)
    Horse: ihahaa (neigh) / we also call Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh “Ihaa”, even though he’s a donkey
    Pig: röh röh (oink)
    Sheep: mää mää (baa)
    Bear: mur mur (growl)
    Elephant: tööt (toot)
    Rooster: kukkokiekuu (cock-a-doodle-doo) / literally translates into “a rooster crows”
    Chicken: kot kot (cluck)
    Duck: kvaak kvaak, or vaak vaak (quack) / shared with the crow
    Cow: ammuu, or muu (moo)
    Owl: huu huu (hoot) / “huu” is also a comical way to mimic a ghost
    Dove: kruu kruu (coo)

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